Offshoring creates mid-level talent shortage

As accounting firms increasingly look to offshore basic work in favour of recruiting graduates, a gap is beginning to emerge in the mid-level talent pool in Australia.

Speaking to Accountants Daily, Planet Consulting founder and principal consultant Rob Pillans said accounting firms are looking to offshore more than ever before.

“There’s no question that many, many firms are choosing to have a lot of the basic work done offshore,” Mr Pillans said.

“Typically in the Philippines or India or Vietnam, the Philippines seems to be the choice for a lot of Australians now.”

While this is a genuine strategy to reduce costs, Mr Pillans said that it could have damaging flow on effects to recruitment.

“[Firms are] not hiring people as graduates and training them, which has been a traditional model in an accounting firm. That has been somewhat eroded by the fact that firms are saying 'Maybe I won't take any graduates this year, I’ll just build my team in the Philippines',” he said.

“So it's going to be interesting over the next few years to see what happens when accounting firms are looking to hire more people with three to five years' experience because we're going to find this big hole in terms of where to find people who have got the experience that firms want.”

Mr Pillans said it could become a scenario, where the only people with that experience are in the Philippines and other countries where Australian firms have been offshoring to.

“I think it's a little more complicated than that, but it is an interesting scenario because I talk to lots of small-medium accounting firms who have certainly got a number of people now based offshore,” he said.

“I think over the next few years we're going to see – well I’m not quite sure what we're going to see – but perhaps we will see this shortage develop of experienced accountants.”

Last year, Pitcher Partners Sydney managing partner Rob Southwell also alluded to this issue, saying that the recent slowdown in graduate recruitment is already causing issues.

“As an industry, we've probably hurt ourselves a little bit in the last couple of years, particularly the big four and the mid-tier firms, there was a big slowdown in graduate recruitment, maybe not in the last 18 months but prior to that,” Mr Southwell said.

“We’re really feeling that in the marketplace now that those qualified people with a couple of years' experience are missing.”

 

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